SEN. Ronald Dela Rosa yesterday said US authorities have cancelled his 10-year visa.
He said he made a formal inquiry with the US Embassy in Manila last month amid reports that it was cancelled due to alleged human rights violations linked to the government’s war on drugs.
Dela Rosa said the embassy responded via a letter dated January 20, saying his visa, which was supposed to expire in 2022, is “no longer valid for travel to the US” and he needs to re-apply if he wants a new visa.
He said no reason was given for the cancellation. He said he can only surmise it has something to do with alleged extrajudicial killings in relation the Duterte administration’s war against illegal drugs.
The US Senate recently approved a resolution invoking the Global Magnitsky Act and asking US President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on Philippine officials involved in the “wrongful” detention of opposition Sen. Leila de Lima and in the alleged extrajudicial killings.
De Lima has been detained since February 2017 on charges she benefited from the drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison when she was still justice secretary. She is detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame.
Dela Rosa is Duterte’s first national police chief. The anti-drugs war, called “Oplan Tokhang,” was his brainchild. He has repeatedly denied there are extrajudicial killings in the drugs war.
Dela Rosa said he will apply for a new visa only if President Duterte asks him to join him in a trip to the US in March for the US-ASEAN Summit. Duterte has not said he would attend the summit and has repeatedly said he is not interested in going to the US, one of those criticizing his war on drugs.
“Pero kung hindi naman ako isasama, hindi na siguro ako mag-apply pa (But if the President will not ask me to join, I think there is no need for me to apply for a new visa),” Dela Rosa said.
Dela Rosa said he is saddened by the cancellation, considering he has good relations with his counterparts in the US in his 34 years in the police service.
He said the US senators who belong to the Democratic Party was fed with wrong information regarding the war on drugs.
He said he has no information if the US visas of other government officials suspected to have committed human rights violations and allegedly responsible for the arrest of De Lima were also cancelled.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said President Duterte will have a better chance to explain human rights abuse issues thrown at him if he accepts President Trump’s invitation for him to go to the US for the US-ASEAN Summit in March.
Lacson said the Philippines is an active member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and therefore the country “must maintain its status in the international community.”
“PRRD’s (Duterte’s) presence in the US summit can also serve an opportunity to clarify whatever issues are being raised, especially on human rights and the administration’s anti-illegal drugs campaign, as well as the country’s judicial system and due process brought about by the resolution filed by some US senators in relation to Magnitsky Act,” Lacson said.